There can’t be too many people that can say they are an accomplished cellist, breakdancer, and Mandarin Chinese speaker, whilst juggling several jobs, and actively pursuing their fitness passion… of skipping, all at the age of 24. Take a look at @skiphiphooray’s vibrant skipping videos and you can’t help but be impressed and inspired. So, let’s find out about the man that’s been skipping around town, Carter Harris-Smith.
“Skipping has changed my world! It all started a few years ago when my mum asked me what she could do to improve her fitness, besides running. I did some research and concluded that skipping would be ideal for her, so I bought us a rope each and we went from there.”
“I’d only ever previously skipped occasionally as a warm-up before hitting the dumbbells at the gym, but there is so much more to it; you can get a complete workout from skipping.”
“After I’d mastered the basic bounce and boxer step, I started to browse Instagram and discovered there’s a very strong presence of skippers. You just need to look at hashtags like #skipping (or #jumprope as the Americans call it) to see there’s a huge global community of like-minded people who want to support each other and share their freestyle routines, skipping challenges and constructive feedback.”
“Reddit is another great social media platform for sharing content online. I’m a moderator of the Reddit r/jumprope community, and we’ve recently reached the 10,000 subscriber milestone, with a giveaway to celebrate. Reddit’s r/jumprope community is incredibly positive, unlike some social media, giving people with all levels of skipping abilities the confidence to post videos for feedback on their form (eg bring arms in closer to body to reduce fatigue, shorten your rope etc) without being embarrassed to do so.”
When he’s not skipping to his heart’s content along the Eastern beach promenade, he slips into his budgie smugglers to train for various ocean swims, notably the Lorne Pier to Pub. Fittingly, he works as a pool lifeguard at Kardinia and Leisurelink aquatic centres, and also works as a sterilisation technician for Barwon Health, and seasonally with the Geelong Football Club.
“During lockdown, I’ve been assisting with Geelong Swim Club’s dryland training program as a conditioning coach, implementing rigorous 20-30 minute skipping workouts. Skipping complements the swimmers’ training regime, especially as their pool training has ceased at various times throughout the Covid pandemic. Whether teaching them side swings as a form of active recovery, or a rope reversal to initiate skipping backwards to engage the trapezius and deltoid muscles, it’s always a positive and uplifting workout for the swimmers.”
“The background to my musicianship started as a 6 year old when mum approached the music teacher, resulting in a ¼ size cello being presented to me and my passion for strings was born. Over the years I’ve played in various orchestras and ensembles at school, university and beyond, including the Geelong Symphony Orchestra and GPAC’s orchestra pit for this year’s ‘West Side Story’. Sadly, all of those group performances are no longer possible until post Covid, as are my solo gigs for weddings and corporate events.”
“Being a musician, the correlation between the rhythmic rotation of the rope’s thud on the ground and blasting motivational music from my speakers appeals to me greatly. Drawing on my classical music background studies, and from spinning high-octane dance floor sizzlers as a dj whilst at uni, I’ve now created skipping-specific playlists for other skippers to stream on Spotify, offering diverse music genres as well as different tempos (search ‘Skip Hip Hooray’ in the Spotify app).”
“I have mum to thank for getting me to embrace an active and outdoor lifestyle from a young age, including dance lessons with Todd McKenney’s mother on the Gold Coast as a 6 year old and competing with the Ashmore Little Aths Club, before returning to Victoria and furthering a creative and active lifestyle, including time at the Chilwell Little Aths Club. I’m grateful for my active upbringing and avoiding any chance of growing up with two left feet!”
After I ask Carter about the beaded skipping rope that was draped over his shoulder, he responded “Oh, I won this in a skipping challenge on Instagram. Skipping ropes are so compact and portable, and they’re a great way to be #covidfit given the outdoor exercise and group fitness restrictions. You don’t need much room to start skipping, there’s no extra equipment required, and you don’t need to wear special clothing either. It’s beneficial in so many ways beyond improving cardiovascular health; it improves your posture and balance, increases bone density, improves spatial awareness and proprioception, and of course it’s an endorphin boost as well.
“As widely reported, the Covid pandemic has exposed Australia’s manufacturing shortcomings and over-reliance on international supply chains. Opportunities to remedy that have seen many businesses diversifying their manufacturing of products. I’d like to think I could be a part of new restart possibilities with the small-scale manufacturing of skipping ropes locally instead of continuing to need to import them. I’m currently designing my own handles for ropes and if I was to utilise the Geelong carbon fibre industry to manufacture them post-Covid, it would be a real world wide game changer in the industry.”
Check out this amazingly fit, ambitious and inspiring skipper @skiphiphooray and happy skipping!
Story: Jacqui Bennett. Video: supplied, music thanks to @kostelevision I wish I knew Natalie Portman.